Since the first Pride parades in the ’70s, music has always played a special part in bringing the LGBTQ community together to celebrate being out and proud.
From Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.” and Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” in the ’70s to Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful,” Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and Scissor Sisters’ “Let’s Have a Kiki” in the 21st century, music has helped LGBTQ people to both survive and thrive.
On this Pride weekend without the parade and all of the parties, The Post asked six LGBTQ DJs — representing each color of the rainbow flag — to keep the music playing by sharing their picks for the songs that have provided the soundtrack of queer freedom, fierceness and fabulosity.
1. DJ Lina Bradford
The New York nightlife legend, trans activist and former dancing DJ queen of Fire Island spins her signature mix of disco and house classics — and whatever else she pleases — in her IG Live sets on Fridays and Saturdays.
Clivillés and Cole, “A Deeper Love”
That song always hits a chord. At the time that it came out [in 1991], it was really one of those bringing-together moments. As the house music turns you out on the dance floor, there’s a message to it.
George Michael, “Freedom! ’90”
That was during the supermodel moment, and it made you feel like you could do runway till the end of the day. Junior [Vasquez] would pop that song on at Sound Factory at 9 or 10 o’clock in the morning, the flashlights were on, and you just felt brand-new!
Ultra Naté, “Free”
She worked the hamstrings of everyone when this song came out [in 1997]. It just told you that, “Guess what? We got this.” It showed how much we had progressed in the community. That song was speaking to the times. We were out more in the media. We were also showing the government and all of the powers that be that, “We’re not taking it anymore.”
Diana Ross, “I’m Coming Out”
There’s just so many significant turn-out moments in that song, and the fact that Miss Ross is singing it is everything. How it’s done and how it’s sold to you has everything to do with how it takes you there . . . I love seeing that all these youngsters are really living for disco. Any disco song is that moment of rainbows and Skittles.
2. Tracy Young
This veteran DJ — a onetime New Yorker now living in Miami — has worked behind the boards as well as behind the decks. In fact, she became the first woman to win the Grammy for Best Remixed Recording in January.
Madonna, “I Rise”
Both the original and the remix — it’s the one I won the Grammy for. That was Madonna’s LGBTQ anthem last year. She wrote it for Stonewall 50 and WorldPride last year. I’ve worked with Madonna for 25 years, and I credit her a lot for what she’s done for the gay community.
Cyndi Lauper, “True Colors”
I did a new version of this a couple years ago that hasn’t been released. I’m gonna be playing it during my virtual Pride set [Saturday and Sunday on SiriusXM’s Utopia, Channel 341]. I always appreciate a song in its original form, but I added some tempo so we could dance to it.
RuPaul, “Supermodel (You Better Work)”
I’m still playing this! He was signed to a label as an openly gay drag queen [in 1991], and that’s such a huge part of our history — and what Pride truly is about. This coined the saying “You better work,” so I had to mention my boy Ru. Ru was the original bitch.
Judy Garland, “Over the Rainbow”
Judy Garland was such a gay icon. Some of these younger kids, they may not know her. But you gotta give Judy Garland some props. I play versions of “Over the Rainbow” during Pride, but it’s not Judy’s voice. It’s a beautiful, beautiful song.
3. Justin Dawson
Brooklyn’s DJ Dawson didn’t let the quarantine keep him from clubbing in the virtual space, regularly throwing down beats for charity on Instagram Live. And he’ll keep the party pumping this weekend at Furball (Saturday on Twitch/Zoom) and a sunset Pride set (Sunday on IG).
CeCe Peniston, “Finally”
For me, it represents Pride because she’s kind of describing a dream man, who happens to look exactly like me — a man with “brown cocoa skin and curly black hair.” That really spoke to me, having that representation. And having everybody on the dance floor singing those lyrics at the top of their lungs, it means something.
Janet Jackson, “Together Again”
It’s about a friend that Janet lost to AIDS. A whole generation was impacted by that. And when I think about Pride, it’s also about remembering those who fought before us and died for us . . . And right now, this song has significant meaning because we have been quarantined, and we can’t wait to be together again on that dance floor, whenever that can happen.
David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland, “When Love Takes Over”
Lyrically, I feel like “When Love Takes Over” is what Pride is all about. The fight for acceptance and equality is really rooted in finding love for each other . . . when love takes over.
Kings of Tomorrow featuring Julie McKnight, “Finally”
It kind of speaks to the timelessness that we experience on the dance floor. Time kind of loses its significance. With Pride, we come together to reflect on the past and to work toward the future, but also to celebrate the moment.
4. Nita Aviance
Since moving to New York in the late ’90s and joining the House of Aviance, this DJ — who released a remix of XiViX’s “Urgent” this week — has turned many an underground party into a kiki, both working solo and as one half of the Carry Nation.
Kevin Aviance, “C - - ty”
I’m gonna give it to my [House of Aviance] sister right there, honey! That is the one. She brings all the girls to the floor. She gives you all the feelings. She’s just about owning it, right? We’re all familiar with the bitch tracks, but there’s something so powerfully aggressive about the rhythm to this. It’s like battle armor.
Two Tons O’ Fun, “Just Us”
It’s always been a classic for the dance community, but I think especially for the queer community . . . When the world is so crazy outside, we still have this really special bond as queer people. It’s just so beautiful, so much love. It’s togetherness, honey!
Alison Limerick, “Where Love Lives”
For me, “where love lives” is the dance floor with our queer community. When we are in so much pain, this is the place that we go to find our like-minded people and celebrate ourselves, the power that we have in our community.
Sylvester, “Over and Over”
These queer people in the past really have paved the way for us to be where we are today. Sylvester was such an out and proud figure for the queer community from very early on, never hiding. And visibility is so key. It’s so important to be out and proud.
5. Bill Coleman
This Brooklyn DJ and owner of Peace Bisquit Productions & Management has worked with everyone from Deee-Lite to Lady Gaga, and spun everywhere from an HK lounge to a BK roller-skating rink.
Grace Jones, “Pull Up to the Bumper”
Pride is about empowerment, but it’s also about sexiness. That song represents an iconic artist who has always been a supporter of LGBTQ lives. She represents a freedom and a power — she’s 72, and she could still lay us all out!
Erasure, “A Little Respect”
This song epitomizes my coming-out college years. That’s what I wanted — a little respect — as a black queer person with an alternative bent, running around in the suburbs. [Lead singer] Andy Bell was so fierce and so out at a time when it wasn’t always commercially viable to be so.
The Ones, “Flawless”
This is bittersweet, of course. Joel Schumacher, who did the movie [“Flawless”] that this song was written for, just passed. And we lost Nashom [Wooden, of the Ones] this year to COVID. The Ones represented the downtown, East Village club scene, and this song became iconic . . . Anybody can be flawless. It’s about an attitude — bringing it and working it.
Carly Rae Jepsen, “Run Away With Me”
That totally is an anthem. 100 percent. It always makes the room go off whenever I play it. Carly Rae really speaks to the younger queer crowd that I DJ for regularly. They love her. They’re, like, disciples. And it makes me happy that they live for her.
6. Eddie Martinez
Now living in Los Angeles, Brooklyn-born Martinez was set to bring home his mix of happy and hard house at the big Sunday Pride Island party — playing original productions such as “One Love” — before the coronavirus spoiled all of the festivities.
Peter Rauhofer & Victor Calderone, “Do It Properly”
It’s just so crowd-pleasing . . . such a feel-good vibe. I mean, it’s telling you what to do: Do it properly. There’s no other way. I’ve always loved Peter Rauhofer’s work. I remember [him DJing] the Roxy closing party. It was the end of an era.
Junior Vasquez & Razor N Guido Present Vernessa Mitchell, “This Joy”
It’s all about joy and happiness, and it always gets the energy through the roof. It’s just about celebrating . . . stomping, jumping up and down, hands up in the air, everyone singing along. It’s always a special moment that takes me to church.
Deborah Cox, “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” (Hex Hector’s Club Mix)
She is Gay Pride in itself. She is the queen of Gay Pride. Ever since I can remember, she’s been one of the powerhouse voices that everyone knows. “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” has drama — and gays like drama.
Veronica, “Someone to Hold” (Johnny Vicious Hard Mix)
It’s kind of a tie between that and [Veronica’s] “Let Me Go . . . Release Me.” They’re both New York City Pride anthems. Screaming vocals, high energy. She’s a legend in the gay community . . . with that diva emotion.